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First Presbyterian Church welcomes new pastor

Staff Report • Dec 1, 2019 at 6:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The congregation of First Presbyterian Church has welcomed a new senior pastor just in time for the holidays.

The Rev. Mike Shelton preached his first sermon as pastor of First Presbyterian on Nov. 10. Shelton and his wife, Donna, are originally from North Carolina and have three grown children.

Calls to ministry

Shelton completed his doctor of ministry degree at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. As part of his degree program, he served a year internship at a church in Galveston, Texas, which led later to answering his first call to full-time ministry in Duncanville, Texas, near Dallas, in the mid-’80s, where he served for five years.

However, he started missing the East Coast, and took his next call to Virginia Beach, where he served for almost eight years.

“The church was active and I learned a lot,” Shelton said. “I enjoyed those years and we raised our three children up to about middle school.”

Mike’s next call to ministry was to Greensboro, North Carolina.

“The move to Greensboro was like going home,” Shelton said. “For the first time in years, we were able to see family more often. Every couple of weeks, we’d go over for Sunday dinner.”

He pastored in Greensboro for five years. His next call to the pastorate was to Summerville, South Carolina, just outside Charleston, where he pastored for 15 years.

“It was very active in missions and did a lot of things that I'm particularly proud of,” Shelton said. “It was kind of like this place. There were four or five churches within a rock throw of each other — Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, and Episcopalian — and we did a lot together.”

Coming to Kingsport

Unsure what his next move should be and not ready to retire, Shelton served as interim pastor in Seneca, South Carolina, for a little over a year. But he realized his heart was in full-time ministry, so when the call came for First Presbyterian in Kingsport, he knew what to do.

“I think the thing I like most about the ministry is getting to know so many different types of people over the years, get to know them and the story of their lives, and be with them through difficult times and good times,” Shelton said. “I'm learning fast, fast as I can learn, and there are a lot of wonderful people here helping me to adjust. I'm glad to be here.”

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